Skip to comments.John Kerry’s Moderates: Are Non-Al-Qaeda Syrian Rebels Really ‘Democratic’?
Posted on 09/06/2013 10:27:04 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
For elected representatives and the public to have the necessary discussion regarding action in Syria, it is crucial that a clear picture of the realities on the ground in Syria be presented.
Regarding the Assad regime and its apologists, nothing needs to be cleared up. This is a regime characterized by murderous brutality since it first emerged in the 1960s. It has been perhaps the single most destabilizing factor in the Levant throughout the years of its existence. An apparent use of nerve gas against its own civilians fits entirely with the more general pattern of its behavior.
But as the U.S. grapples with the issue of what, if anything, is to be done, it is clear that a rival campaign of deception is under way: an attempt to present the Syrian armed rebels as consisting in the main of moderate and pro-democratic forces. If only that were so: in reality, the spectrum of orientation among the observable Syrian rebel units spans from a Muslim Brotherhood-type outlook to open identification with al-Qaeda.
This means the most moderate rebel units share the ideas of former President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. And Hamas.
Lets take a closer look. According to the most authoritative studies on the subject, there are three main blocs among the Syrian rebels.
The most radical element is the al-Qaeda-type groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.) The latter is the direct descendant of the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of Iraqs organization. (For those who dont remember, this individual was known as a brutal sectarian murderer of Iraqi Shia before he was killed by U.S. forces.) Much evidence has emerged showing that his current followers are faithful adherents to his methods. Also, both of these groups are openly and directly loyal to the core al-Qaeda group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A second, larger bloc consists of openly anti-democratic Salafi Islamist fighters, gathered together as the Syrian Islamic Front bloc. The main element of this grouping is the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militia.
These groups have been prominent in the fighting in northern Syria; they are responsible for capturing the single provincial capital to fall to the rebels: Raqqa. Today, Raqqa has exchanged the repression of the Assads for the repression of the Islamists.
Then we have the third bloc, the largest collection of brigades. These are the ones who we are encouraged to see as moderate and democratic.
The main element of this third bloc is called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. Its 20 constituent units are loyal to the Western-supported Supreme Military Council (SMC), or General Staff of the Military and Revolutionary Forces. They include some of the most powerful rebel brigades, including Liwa al-Islam in the Damascus area, the Tawhid Brigade of Aleppo, and the Farouq Brigades.
The SMC is headed by former Syrian Army Major General Salim Edriss. It is today responsible for the distributing of Western and Gulf assistance to the rebels, and on this basis has secured the loyalty of most of the SILF rebel units. (A number of smaller factions, including Afhad al-Rasul and Asifat al-Shamal, also align with the SMC, though not the SILF.)
All of the groups mentioned here pledge allegiance to some form of Sunni Islamism.
I have made several trips to rebel-controlled northern Syria over the last year. In September 2012, I interviewed one of the senior commanders of the Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo, and I spent several days traveling with the brigades fighters at the height of the fighting there. I also interviewed members of the emergent Sharia councils in the rebel-controlled areas.
Alignment with the SMC is the passport to receiving Western-approved money and guns. But there is little reason to believe that these brigades regard themselves as under orders to General Edriss because of this affiliation. The Syrian rebellion emerged in the impoverished rural Sunni Arab parts of Syria; these areas are tailor-made for the political style of the Muslim Brotherhood. This political style unmistakably characterizes the Tawhid, Farouq, and other powerful units engaged in the rebellion yet it is these units which are being referred to when claims of moderate and democratic rebels are made.
The claims themselves are obviously disingenuous. I watched a recent broadcast during which an advocate for the rebels showed a chart referring to the SILF as the Syrian Liberation Front. The deception was obvious, and contemptible.
The American people and their elected representatives need clear information in order to reach a decision on Syria. Yet what they are currently getting from pro-rebel mouthpieces is an attempt to re-brand Muslim Brotherhood-oriented militias as moderate and democratic. In reality, they resemble Morsi and Hamas.
Dont be fooled.
Perhaps democratic in that three wolves and two sheep voting on what’s for dinner is democratic.
As a Marxist, Kerry believes 'Government is God'. Christians are a threat to Kerry's (and 0bama's) world view and they're out to crush them all over the globe.. Syria is 'Egypt II'.
I’m more concerned with individual liberty than democracy. We should be too.
The “rebels” are either Christian-killers themselves, or they consent to those of their compatriots who kill Christians.
PHOOEY to ALL of them!!!!
September 11 is coming up soon! DO NOT dishonor the memories of those who lost their lives on that day in 2001 by consenting in any way to the bombing of Syria to aid Al Qaeda and the muslim Brotherhood!!!!
We should have learned from Iraq which is once again resembling a sectarian hatred hell-hole .... a brutal dictator is the only way some people can be governed.
I don’ think the Obama team has a grain of sense between them.